What you need to know:
- The study titled AMP (antibody mediated prevention)” was launched last Friday in Kisumu by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).
- About 1,500 sexually active women aged between 18 and 40, who are at high risk, will be enrolled for the trials.
Researchers have begun a study of a vaccine that could prevent women from contracting HIV/Aids by use of a simple injection of antibodies.
The study titled AMP (antibody mediated prevention)” was launched last Friday in Kisumu by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).
Antibodies are natural proteins in the body that fight diseases, and can prevent the growth and spread of the virus.
Speaking during the launch of the study at Kemri field station in Kisumu, Dr Steve Munga, field station director, said the clinical trials will test whether giving women an anti-HIV antibody called VRC01 as an intravenous infusion after every eight weeks, was safe, tolerable and effective at preventing HIV infection.
About 1,500 sexually active women aged between 18 and 40, who are at high risk, will be enrolled for the trials.
Dr Munga said the target audience is women because they are one of the key populations who are more likely to get infected at the age of 18 and 40.
They are also more vulnerable than men.
“Most HIV vaccine trials tend to favour men more, yet women are the highest population. We are looking for more tools to protect women as well,” said Dr Munga.
“Traditionally in HIV vaccine studies, people get a vaccine and researchers wait to see if their bodies will make antibodies against HIV in response to the vaccine,” he added.
He said in this case, however, the antibodies would be administered.
“We need to know if this antibody will protect against infection,” he said.
“Giving people antibodies to prevent an infection is an accepted medical practice that is more than 100 years old in the country.
"Laboratory studies have shown that giving antibodies can stop up to 90 per cent of HIV strains worldwide from infecting human cells,” he added.
The AMP studies could have a major impact on the future of HIV prevention and may be especially informative to HIV vaccine research.
Dr David Schnabel, the study coordinator, said the research would take place in 21 sites in Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Enrolment of participants for the clinical trials has begun at Kemri, Centre for Disease Control Field Station in Kisian, Kisumu.
The study is funded by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the HIV Prevention Trials Network.